Dominica fish coubouillon
While growing up in the village of Thibaud, Dominica, the village was widely known as a fisherman’s community. There were boats and pwipwi lining the shores of Sandwich Bay. It was always an exciting moment for the community when fishermen left the village, went out to sea, and the boats returning with the catch of the day. The anticipation was a major part of the experience.
At the end of the day, it was customary that fishermen would come back home with a variety of fish. They were the usual catch, like the red snapper, flying fish, “balaw”, “cayee”, cooliw, dorado (Mahi-mahi), “ton,” and others. If you didn’t see the boats coming in or the neighbor neglected to mention it, there was no need to feel left out as villagers were often alerted by the sounds of the conch shell. Fishermen sold their catch on the beach, and they transported some to neighboring villages for more sales and distribution.
On the island, most fish were prepared fried, in broth, or in a coubouillon, which is very common in Dominica. The name coubouillon is derived from a creole term to refer to a herb-infused flavorful fish dish with gravy. It’s often eaten with provisions, vegetables, and or dumplings. Some folks like to prepare their coubouillon with fried fish, and others use fresh.
I learned to cook coubouillon from my grandmother at around age nine 9this was the first major dish I prepared independently). While preparing this wonderful fish dish, I used all herbs that I could find around the backyard, along with Maggi seasoning cube, oil, and one of her sacred ingredients, Mello butter. I’ve since neglected it in my cooking due to its availability. As a matter of fact, since leaving Dominica, I’ve not seen Mello and have traded it for olive oil and unsalted butter. To compensate for the loss of that yellow color, I now use paprika, more tomatoes, turmeric, and tri-color peppers to enhance the color and flavor.
In this post, I’m sharing my Dominica fish coubouillon recipe with you. Enjoy!
Dominica fish coubouillon recipe
- 2 lbs Red snapper
- 1⅓ tbsp Olive oil
- ½ cup Unsalted butter
- 1 Lime or lemon squeezed
- 6 gloves Garlic minced
- 1 Onion chopped
- ¼ Green onions chopped
- ½ cup Peppers
- ½ cup Tomato chopped
- 1 teaspoon Peppercorn
- ¼ Thyme
- ¼ Parsley
- 1 tbsp Turmeric
- 1 tbsp Paprika
- Salt Your preference
- 1 teaspoon flour
- 1 teaspoon Black pepper
- 1½ cup Water
- 3 Okra (optional)
- Wash scaled and cleaned fish
- Gather your seasoning
- Pat dry with a paper towel
- If you're cooking whole snapper, or another whole fish, you can add three small diagonal slices to the skin of the fish. This helps the seasoning get through as well as help control how the skin opens up to the heat.
- Add half of the juice from the lime/lemon, some salt, half of the minced garlic and black pepper and let it marinade for 30 minutes
- In a frying pan add olive oil and butter, then all the remaining ingredients except the flour, lime/lemon juice and water
- Saute the herbs and veggies for about 5 minutes
- Add the cop of then add fish
- Using a spoon, cover fish with some of the gravy.
- Cover pot and let fish simmer for another 10 minutes on medium heat
- Gently turn fish over if you're able to without it falling apart
- Add some of the lime/lemon juice
- Mix the flour with about 2 teaspoon of water and pour in frying pan to help thicken the sauce
- Cover and let fish boil for 5 more minutes
- Remove and serve with rice, dumplings or provisions